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Mary Beth NortonMy Dearest Friend begins with a 1762 courtship letter to the 17-year-old Abigail Smith from the 26-year-old John Adams, and ends (except for an epilogue describing Abigail's death in 1818) with the last surviving letter Abigail wrote John, shortly before he left Washington in 1801 at the end of his largely unsuccessful four-year presidency. The editors point out that this edition is intended to be "read and enjoyed, not necessarily studied," and so they have refrained from extensive annotations, although they occasionally add introductory paragraphs or brief clarifying comments. Nearly every letter is printed in its entirety, without modernized spelling or punctuation. That practice is especially revealing of Abigail's contributions, because, lacking formal education, she wrote with a charming idiosyncratic diction…From John's salutation in the first letter—"Miss Adorable"—to the epilogue and his final signature in a letter to his son John Quincy about Abigail's death—"your Aged and Afflicted Father"—the Adamses' correspondence gives modern Americans an extraordinarily personal view of our country's founding.
—The New York Times